Plant in Texas still a threat after flood damage

Communities in hurricane-hit Houston alarmed by explosions, black smoke at chemical plant

Plant in Texas still a threat after flood damage

World Bulletin / News Desk

A chemical manufacturer warned Thursday its flood-damaged plant in Crosby, Texas, still poses a threat after fires broke out and containers burst at the complex.

Small explosions and a rising plume of black smoke early Thursday caused alarm in the area. The Arkema plant, less than 30 miles (48 kilometers) from flood-ravaged Houston, which bore the brunt of Hurricane Harvey, manufactures liquid organic peroxides used by the pharmaceutical and construction industries. The material must remain cold or will combust.

"These materials have to be maintained cold. When they decompose, they will generate heat; and when they generate heat, there's a possibility of a fire and explosion," Arkema senior executive Richard Rennard told reporters.

“We don’t want people returning back to their homes thinking it is over. It is not over. This is a very serious issue, and we know that,” he said.

Rennard said the “popping” sounds and the smoke came from one of nine containers holding the liquid peroxides. The damaged plant has lost its ability to keep the chemicals stable due to a power outage and failed back-up generators.

The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a temporary flight ban near the plant.

On Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a statement seeking to alleviate concern among the local population.

“The EPA has emergency response personnel on the scene, and the agency is currently reviewing data received from an aircraft that surveyed the scene early this morning,” the statement quoted the agency’s administrator, Scott Pruitt, as saying.

“This information indicates that there are no concentrations of concern for toxic materials reported at this time,” Pruitt added.

There is a 1.5-mile (2.41-kilometer) radius exclusion area around the explosion site and EPA personnel are getting as close to the scene as possible. A zone has been set by the local fire marshal to protect the area from any additional explosions.

At least 38 deaths have been reported and as many as 40,000 homes may have been destroyed following torrential downpours and mass flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey since last weekend.

More than 8,500 people have been rescued in Houston alone.

The storm was initially downgraded to a tropical storm and later to a tropical depression, but flood warnings remain in effect in the area until Friday.

 

Güncelleme Tarihi: 01 Eylül 2017, 01:29
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